2023-2024 Medical School Application Timeline and Monthly Schedule

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This post outlines the medical school application timeline you should follow, including key dates and an ideal preparation schedule. We’ll break things down based on when each aspect of your application is due, as well as what you should be working on each month as you prepare for and work through the application process.

Looking for a month-by-month schedule? Scroll below for a breakdown of what you should prepare and work on each month leading up to medical school.

May signals the opening of the medical school application portals and the start of the road to acceptance. This is an exciting moment for any premed, but there’s plenty of preparation required before you reach this moment. A good road map for the application process and a plan of attack will help you get into the school of your choosing without burning out along the way. Here’s what to expect throughout the entire application process.

Article Sections:

  1. Dates and Deadlines
  2. Application Timeline (Ideal vs. Possible)
  3. The 5 Steps of a Medical School Application
  4. Month-by-Month Preparation Schedule
  5. Application FAQs
  6. Resources

 

Medical School Application Dates and Deadlines

The following dates represent the earliest you can complete aspects of your application. It’s important that you don’t simply follow application deadlines or wait until the last moment to submit.

Successful candidates apply as soon as possible. Your own personal timeline should prepare you well in advance, allowing plenty of time to complete all aspects of your applications.

Applying early is one of the most important medical school admission strategies.

DateEvent
MayAMCAS application opens
End of May or start of JuneFirst day to submit AMCAS application
End of JuneApplication data first sent to medical schools
JulySecondary applications
Mid-AugustInterviews begin
September – DecemberIndividual medical school application deadlines
Mid-OctoberMedical schools begin sending acceptance letters

 

Not ready to prep your application yet? Read our Pre-Med College Timeline – 4 Years from Start to Medical School Acceptance.

 

Medical School Application Timeline (Ideal vs. Possible)

The AMCAS application typically opens during the first week of May for the following year’s medical school class. Once applications open, you have a month to prepare your application for submissions that open at the end of May or early June. To begin medical school in the fall of 2024, the application process begins in the spring of 2023.

Two to four weeks after submitting your primary application, secondary applications arrive. You should complete these as soon as possible, even if they aren’t due right away. Complete your secondaries within 7-14 days, but be sure to give yourself enough time to submit a quality response.

Interviews are scheduled during August and September and can continue into the spring of the next year. Don’t wait until you have an interview scheduled to begin preparing. You should be thinking about your interviews and practicing months before you receive an invitation.

Follow our medical school application timeline, which outlines ideal deadlines versus what’s technically possible. Remember: applying early is one of the most important medical school admission strategies.

Medical School Application Timeline

 

The 5 Steps of the Medical School Application Process

The medical school application has many moving parts. Step one is completing your MCAT, which you will ideally complete the summer before you plan to submit your application. Next, your primary application is due, followed by secondaries, interviews, and then admissions decisions.

Steps for Medical School Application Process

Step 1: Take the MCAT (and take the Casper test, if required)

Step 2: Primary application

Step 3: Secondary application

Step 4: Interviews

Step 5: Admissions Decisions

Continue reading for a breakdown of steps one through five, followed by our month-by-month breakdown of what you should be working on when.

Step 1: Take the MCAT

MCAT taking on computer or paper

The MCAT is a grueling 7.5 hour test that requires many, many hours of planning, studying, practicing, and preparing. You should prepare for and take this test well before primary applications open.

If you want to go straight into medical school after college, we recommend you take the MCAT during the summer after your sophomore year. If you want to take a year off after college, we recommend taking the MCAT during the summer between your junior and senior years.

Read our MCAT Study Guide, which includes MCAT basics, how the MCAT is scored, 7 MCAT study strategies, MCAT resources, and FAQs.

Step 2: Primary Application

typing on laptop secondary application

Most allopathic US medical schools (schools at which you earn an MD degree) use AMCAS (the American Medical College Application Service) as their primary application service. If you choose to apply to osteopathic (DO) schools, you will use AACOMAS, and if you choose to apply to Texas medical schools, you will use TMDSAS.

The AMCAS application opens at the beginning of May. This is the date on which you can start filling out the application with your own information.

The application cannot be submitted to schools until the end of May or the beginning of June, so you have about one month to work on it. As you have likely heard many times before, apply as early as you can in the application process! This is because medical schools use rolling admissions, meaning they review applications chronologically as they arrive. The earlier in the cycle you submit, the more spots will be available and the better chance you will have of acceptance (and vice versa).

We won’t go into all of the details of the AMCAS application itself, but from May to early June is when you will enter all of your information and materials into the application.

Read our Guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process for a detailed list of everything the primary application includes.

Another step you will take at this time is to decide how many and which schools to apply to. This is a nuanced and important decision. If smart decisions are not made regarding the number of programs and which programs to apply to, with a strategic spread based on program characteristics, your countless hours of hard work on the application may go to waste.

Consider our application consulting services to help with this step, as well as any component of creating or strengthening your application.

The AAMC website provides a list of all programs and their respective deadlines. They also have a service called MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirements), which provides detailed admissions info for each program. MSAR can also be very useful when selecting programs to apply to and is a good resource to consider.

Learn more: We break down the high-yield information found on the MSAR and how to use it (with screenshots).

Step 3: Secondary Application

Secondary Questions person happy looking at computer screen

Medical schools begin to review applications at the end of June. If you submitted your primary in June, expect to start receiving secondary applications a few weeks later.

Please see our guide, which discusses in detail the secondary application process. In short, secondary apps are a series of essays or short answer questions asking you to elaborate on why you are a good fit for that particular program. Expect to receive a large number of secondaries during the summer. Use the same principle outlined above for the primary app: do them as soon as possible!

Do not compromise quality for speed, but try to get them done within 7-14 days. Begin preparing answers to common secondary questions in advance. Again, the sooner they are sent back, the sooner the interview invites will roll in!

Step 4: Scheduling Interviews

Interview with question marks

After tackling the process of secondaries, you are nearing the promised land. Now comes the fun: interview season.

Interviews are an opportunity to showcase your personality and strengths as an applicant. Some interviews can start as early as September, but the bulk of early interviews will occur in October.

The interview season then runs throughout the winter and spring, and later interviews can occur as late as April. Schools will contact you with possible dates, and you will be able to arrange your interviews based on your availability.

For a thorough overview of the interview process, read our complete Medical School Interview Guide.

Step 5: Acceptance and Admissions Decisions

How to Decide Which Medical Schools to Apply to

Making it to admissions decisions is the peak you have been striving for. It will mark the culmination of years of hard work. The feeling of acceptance is pure joy, as well as sheer relief. You will get there soon enough! Here’s how to make the most of the last hurdle before medical school.

Medical schools begin sending acceptance letters mid-October. You may be contacted any time thereafter, so early applicants may receive acceptances in late October.

Applicants can hold multiple acceptances until the end of April. Each program will use school-specific procedures regarding acceptance deadlines. Applicants will likely be required to choose one program or respond to all acceptance offers shortly after April.

Another key component to take into account is the waitlist. Some schools may respond after an interview stating that you have not been accepted but rather placed on the waitlist. Though not the goal, being placed on the waitlist can lead to a positive outcome.

Waitlist acceptances can occur any time during the application season, but do not be surprised if they occur late. After the end of April, students will have to give up their multiple acceptances in favor of one, so you may receive an acceptance offer from the waitlist after this time.

Read our 7 strategies for How to Get Off Medical School Waitlists.

Those are the nuts and bolts of the medical school application process. Having this road map in mind will be helpful in planning your workload, travel, and interview preparation during the whole process. While some of these steps occur sequentially, you need to be working on many application components at once. Next, we’ll break down what you should tackle on a month-by-month basis.

 

Month-by-Month Application Preparation Schedule

Spring-Summer 2022

Fall-Winter 2022

January 2023

February 2023

March 2023

April 2023

  • Fine-tune personal statement and seek feedback
  • Confirm letters of recommendation and follow up
  • Compile and fine-tune extracurriculars for the Work and Activities section
  • Decide which medical schools you’ll apply to
  • MCAT test dates available for junior/senior students
  • Possible Casper preparation

May 2023

  • At the beginning of May, AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS open—begin filling in your applications (you are not able to submit yet)
  • Complete any optional or mini essays
  • Fine-tune your application
  • Follow up on any late or missing letters of recommendation
  • Make final decisions about which schools you’ll apply to
  • MCAT test dates available for junior/senior students
  • Possible Casper preparation

June 2023

July 2023

August 2023

September 2023

  • Continue completing medical school interviews
  • Send interview thank you messages
  • MCAT test dates available for junior/senior students (the last test dates of the year usually occur by early to mid-September, and then no more MCAT test dates until next January)

October 2023

  • Continue completing medical school interviews and sending thank you emails
  • Send letters of interest and updates, if appropriate
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)
  • You may receive an acceptance as early as mid-October
  • No MCAT test dates, but students may be studying for next year’s test dates

November 2023

  • Continue completing medical school interviews and sending thank you emails
  • Send letters of interest and updates, if appropriate
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)
  • You may receive acceptance offers
  • No MCAT test dates, but students may be studying for next year’s test dates

December 2023

  • Continue completing medical school interviews and sending thank you emails
  • Send letters of interest and updates, if appropriate
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)
  • You may receive acceptance offers
  • No MCAT test dates, but students may be studying for next year’s test dates

January 2024

  • Continue completing medical school interviews and sending thank you emails
  • Send letters of interest and updates, if appropriate
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)
  • You may receive acceptance offers

February 2024

  • Continue completing medical school interviews and sending thank you emails
  • Send letters of interest and updates, if appropriate
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)
  • You may receive acceptance offers
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)

March 2024

  • Continue completing medical school interviews and sending thank you emails
  • Send letters of interest and updates, if appropriate
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)
  • Offers are sent out by the middle of March (If you do not receive acceptances by this time, you may be waitlisted)

April 2024

  • Send letters of interest and updates, if appropriate
  • Optional: Send a letter of intent to your top school (you can only send this letter to one school)
  • Applicants must formally choose a medical school by the end of April

 

Medical School Application Timeline FAQ

Medical School Application FAQs

When Do Applications Open?

Medical school applications typically open during the first week of May for the following year’s medical school class. You’ll have about a month to prepare your application before submissions open at the end of May or early June. The application process begins in the spring of 2023 to begin medical school in the fall of 2024.

What’s the Latest I Can Submit My Application Without Consequence?

Applications close between October and December. However, there is a massive difference between what is technically possible and what will give you the best chance of acceptance. We consider September too late to submit your primary application.

The later you wait to submit your primary application, the worse your chances of acceptance. While it’s possible to get accepted between October and December, it’s unlikely; plus, it will throw off your whole application schedule.

You’ll need to speed through your secondaries, interviews, admissions decisions, and so on, which will cause your stress levels to skyrocket. Admissions committees are looking for cool, calm, and collected candidates, not someone frantically trying to finish things at the last minute.

Rolling admissions means your chances of acceptance decrease the later you submit your application, so submitting early is one of the best things you can do to increase your chances. Plan ahead, and try to submit your application within the first two weeks you are able to submit.

Learn more: How Late Can You Submit Your Primary Application? (Without Consequence)

When Should I Take the MCAT?

The ideal time to take the MCAT depends on what your plans are after college. Are you planning on taking a year off or going straight into medical school?

If you plan to go straight into medical school, we recommend you take the MCAT during the summer after your sophomore year. If you’re planning on taking a year off after college to travel and what have you, we recommend taking the MCAT during the summer between your junior and senior years.

Learn more: Should You Delay Your MCAT? How to Know If You’re Ready

When Should I Take the Casper Test?

Not everyone needs to complete a Casper test. In order to find out if you need to take it, you have to check with each specific school you’re applying to. When you need to complete your Casper test also depends on each school you’re applying to.

You might not need your Casper results until your secondary applications are due. But keep in mind it takes two-three weeks for your Casper results to be shared with the programs you’re applying to, and writing your secondary applications is very time-consuming and will require all of your attention.

If you can make it work, we recommend taking your Casper test as early in the year as you can to get it out of the way. It will be one less thing you have to worry about when it comes time to submit your applications, work on your secondaries, and prepare for interviews. You might also consider taking the Casper test in June after your primary application is submitted and before secondaries begin.

Read our Casper Test Guide that outlines everything you need to know about the Casper test, including test logistics, how it’s scored, and how to prepare.

If My Primary Application is Late, Should I Wait Until the Next Application Cycle?

Yes. If you haven’t submitted your application by the end of summer, you are better off waiting until the following application cycle to apply. Your chances of acceptance are much better the earlier you submit, so it’s a good idea to wait until the following application cycle. In the meantime, you can focus on thoroughly preparing and finessing your application.

If you scramble as quickly as possible through the process of secondaries, interviews, and so on, you will very likely face rejections. Your chances of acceptance are much better if you go in prepared and apply as early in the application cycle as possible.

Applying to medical school is complicated and expensive—don’t put yourself in the position of having to reapply a second time.

Which Application Service Do I Need to Apply Through?

The application service you need to apply through depends on where you live and whether or not you’re planning to become an allopathic doctor (MD) or an osteopathic doctor (DO).

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is the AAMC’s centralized medical school application processing service and the primary application method for first year entering classes for the vast majority of medical schools located in the United States. Regardless of how many programs you plan on applying to, you only need to submit one set of application materials to AMCAS—unless you choose to apply to osteopathic (DO) schools or medical schools located in Texas.

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) is the centralized online application service for the colleges of osteopathic medicine located in the US and the primary application method for students planning on pursuing osteopathy.

AACOMAS streamlines the process of applying to osteopathic medical schools by having students submit only one set of application materials. AACOMAS verifies, processes, and submits your materials to the schools you choose—as long as you’re only applying to DO schools.

Learn more: AACOMAS Application Guide For DO Schools.

The Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service (TMDSAS) is the primary application service for the majority of medical schools located in Texas, including dental and veterinary schools. Since the state of Texas only accepts a maximum of 10% of medical students from out-of-state and most of their applicants are from Texas, they have their own centralized application service.

If you’re only applying to med schools in Texas, you only have to submit one set of application materials through TMDSAS, which they will verify, process, and send to the Texas schools of your choosing.

Learn more: TMDSAS Application Guide for Texas Medical Schools.

If you plan on applying to both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) programs or plan on applying to med schools inside and outside of Texas, you will need to submit applications through the proper application service. Each service has slightly different application requirements, so it’s important to read up on the differences between each application service.

For more details, read our comprehensive guide: AMCAS vs. AACOMAS vs. TMDSAS Med School Application Differences.

 

Build an Ideal Application Timeline

Med School Insiders can help you follow an ideal application timeline, and we’ll help you create a stand out medical school application. Our Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages are designed to maximize your potential with one-on-one advising, essay editing, application editing, mock interviews, and more.

We’re dedicated to creating a generation of happier, healthier, and more effective future doctors, and we’ll help you become the doctor you’ve always dreamed of.

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